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Old 03-17-2013, 08:10 PM   #1
Hawaiibboy
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Before I haul off and purchase all of this I wanted to get feedback from y'all as to if I am missing any key things or things that aren't necessary. Here is my list to get my 3-5gal BIAB brewery going.

Mashing/Lautering:
Burner
S/S 10.5gal (42qt) Kettle
Thermometer
Mesh Bag
Immersion Wort Chiller
Pre-Chiller

Fermenting:
5gal primary x2 (ported? better bottles)
3gal 2ndary x2 (ported? better bottles)
Bungs x4
Airlocks x4
Blow-off assembly x2
Fermometers x4

Bottling:
Bottling Cane
Wing Capper

Cleaning & Sanitizing
PBW
STAR-san
Bottle Brush
Carboy Dryer

Various:
4ft hosing
Racking Cane (auto siphon)
Hydrometer and testing jar
Beer thief
Spoon/stirring utensil

EDIT: and a temp controller for my spare freezer


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Old 03-17-2013, 09:08 PM   #2
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You could get by with a smaller kettle but you will learn to appreciate that larger size. Unless there is a huge price difference between that one and a smaller 8 gallon size, stick with the larger. I'd go with 6 1/2 gallon bucket fermenters as they can be used for smaller batches too but the smaller ones cannot be used for a larger batch. Unless you know a very good reason why you need to secondary, spend the money on another primary and forget about using a secondary. Instead of 4 fermometers (which I find hard to read most of the time) get a non-contact infrared digital thermometer. The price will likely be about the same and you may find the non-contact thermometer to be useful elsewhere. I have 2 bottle brushes and seldom use either of them. 4 feet of hose is not enough, get at least 6 feet. You can use a turkey baster to collect your hydrometer samples and put the leftover money toward more ingredients. I use the plastic tube the hydrometer comes in for a testing jar. It takes very little wort to get a sample. Make sure you buy 2 hydrometers because you will break one shortly.


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Old 03-17-2013, 09:14 PM   #3
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Are you dealing with space issues here? Reason I ask is that you're purchasing a fair bit of equipment and it may be better to consider going "typical" all-grain, rather than a BIAB setup. You're really only talking about $150-$200 in additional equipment and in my opinion, will result in an easier, cleaner brewing experience. Personally, I think it's an important point to consider since your decisions about equipment may change if you're considering migrating to typical AG in the future. (i.e. 15 gallon pot, practical since you've added a burner to your shopping list.)

As for your fermenters, I think a 6.5 gallon and 5 gallon will be better setups. (You'll want room for fermentation to occur without loss of beer and might regret the smaller choices.) Strongly consider a bench capper, I find mine invaluable and easier to use. I find a bottle brush is unnecessary if using a PBW/Oxyclean soak for bottle cleaning. Add a jet bottle cleaner, you'll thank me later. A bottle tree is invaluable. You'll want containers for Oxy/StarSan, but you probably all ready have this. Kudos on the auto-siphon choice. You don't need a testing jar if using your hydrometer with a beer thief. You don't need a pre-chiller unless your tap water tends to be very warm (80+ degrees) and you might want to read up on the effectiveness of them, because I've seen mixed results. Think about how you're going to get water to/from the immersion chiller, there might be additional fittings involved and/or more hose involved. I use a 3' potable water hose attached to my kitchen sink (and the appropriate faucet to hose adapter, also necessary for a jet bottle washer) all the time for cleaning and conveniently filling.

Your keezer/fermentation chamber is a whole different topic, I'd hold off until you're ready to tackle that project.

I'm sure I've missed other things, but that's my opinion.
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RM-MN
You could get by with a smaller kettle but you will learn to appreciate that larger size. Unless there is a huge price difference between that one and a smaller 8 gallon size, stick with the larger. I'd go with 6 1/2 gallon bucket fermenters as they can be used for smaller batches too but the smaller ones cannot be used for a larger batch. Unless you know a very good reason why you need to secondary, spend the money on another primary and forget about using a secondary. Instead of 4 fermometers (which I find hard to read most of the time) get a non-contact infrared digital thermometer. The price will likely be about the same and you may find the non-contact thermometer to be useful elsewhere. I have 2 bottle brushes and seldom use either of them. 4 feet of hose is not enough, get at least 6 feet. You can use a turkey baster to collect your hydrometer samples and put the leftover money toward more ingredients. I use the plastic tube the hydrometer comes in for a testing jar. It takes very little wort to get a sample. Make sure you buy 2 hydrometers because you will break one shortly.
Thanks for the pointers, especially about the fermometers and non-contact thermometer! Can it be used to check the temps of my mash?

In terms of secondary fermenters: the reason I am planning on using them is for clarifying and for aging. I have dreams of doing big honkin' imperial IPAs and those can take time to really develop. Also I have read that the head space in the fermenter can be an issue.

For now I am planning on doing 3gal batches, thus the smaller fermenters. Would you suggest otherwise? Perhaps 2 6.5gal fermenter for 5gal batches and 2 5gal? I've always used my old roommate's glass carboys in the past and never buckets. He isn't around any more so just wondering if buckets have any downsides etc. I have a glass carboy laying around too but not sure on its size (can't remember)

Will add a second hydrometer and get rid of the thief. Gone is the bottle brush as I found a bottle blaster and the faucet adapter for about the cost of 4 bottle brushes.

The difference in price between an 8gal and 10.5gal kettle are negligible and if in the future I want to punch a weldless bulkhead I have a metal worker buddy that could do it for me (seeing I don't have the tools for it).
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by revco
Are you dealing with space issues here? Reason I ask is that you're purchasing a fair bit of equipment and it may be better to consider going "typical" all-grain, rather than a BIAB setup. You're really only talking about $150-$200 in additional equipment and in my opinion, will result in an easier, cleaner brewing experience. Personally, I think it's an important point to consider since your decisions about equipment may change if you're considering migrating to typical AG in the future. (i.e. 15 gallon pot, practical since you've added a burner to your shopping list.)

As for your fermenters, I think a 6.5 gallon and 5 gallon will be better setups. (You'll want room for fermentation to occur without loss of beer and might regret the smaller choices.) Strongly consider a bench capper, I find mine invaluable and easier to use. I find a bottle brush is unnecessary if using a PBW/Oxyclean soak for bottle cleaning. Add a jet bottle cleaner, you'll thank me later. A bottle tree is invaluable. You'll want containers for Oxy/StarSan, but you probably all ready have this. Kudos on the auto-siphon choice. You don't need a testing jar if using your hydrometer with a beer thief. You don't need a pre-chiller unless your tap water tends to be very warm (80+ degrees) and you might want to read up on the effectiveness of them, because I've seen mixed results. Think about how you're going to get water to/from the immersion chiller, there might be additional fittings involved and/or more hose involved. I use a 3' potable water hose attached to my kitchen sink (and the appropriate faucet to hose adapter, also necessary for a jet bottle washer) all the time for cleaning and conveniently filling.

Your keezer/fermentation chamber is a whole different topic, I'd hold off until you're ready to tackle that project.

I'm sure I've missed other things, but that's my opinion.
Wow lots of info here! Not sure if I'll be making my purchase today or not! Thank you!

In terms of space:

I have storage space, but not a lot of physical space to brew in. I'm on a hill and have limited flat areas to brew on. My burner is purely because my electric element stove has no room under the fume hood to fit a kettle appropriate for BIAB or AG. (Old house, tiny stove)

The burner and kettle could be used to go to a "traditional" AG set up later if I gain more space in the future. Would probably go to a cooler mash/lauter tun and use the kettle for boils, then add a second kettle for hot liquor and go three tier.

I do live in Hawaii so depending on the time of day I am brewing at the water in to my chiller could be close to 80F. My plans are to start at sunset though and hope that by the time I go to chill the water will have cooled sufficiently to reach yeast pitching temps.

The temp controller is a must with ambient temperatures peaking in the low-mid 80's as of lately and dropping to the high 60's at night, only to get warmer as summer rolls around. I do have a spare freezer so fermenting will be going on in there. The only way I can see around this is to only brew certain styles with yeasts that are meant for the warmer temperatures (saison for example).
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:38 PM   #6
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I do BIAB and I love it. I decided to go that route because I didn't have enough space to have the mash/lauter tun, but I really enjoy the experience.

I was given a vegetable steamer insert for pots, but instead of using it for steaming vegi's I use it as a false bottom for my brew kettle/mash tun. That way, when you're heating the water, the steamer separates the bag from the bottom of the kettle and keeps the bag from getting burned. Then you don't have to lift and stir every time you heat up your mash. It saves a lot of work.

If you already have a chest freezer, the temperature controller is a no-brainer. Just do it. The best thing I ever did for my beer was fermentation temperature control.

If it is a chest freezer, you'll have a hard time getting glass carboys or better bottles in and out of it without some sort of carrying device. I'd consider using the buckets with handles to make that part of it easier.
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:51 PM   #7
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BIAB is a great way to go, especially if you're short on space.
If you're OK with 2.5 or 3 gallon batches, your kettle size is fine, but if you are thinking about going bigger, get the bigger pot now. A keggle is a great alternative.
Like Uziyahu said, a steamer basket/kettle combination is ideal for BIAB.
I'm not sure what you meant by immersion chiller pre-chiller. And you listed it with the MLT supplies. To be clear, you use the immersion chiller after the boil only.
I like the S shaped air locks... they won't suck sanitizer back into the carboy.
Other than that, you look like you have it under control.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uziyahu
I do BIAB and I love it. I decided to go that route because I didn't have enough space to have the mash/lauter tun, but I really enjoy the experience.

I was given a vegetable steamer insert for pots, but instead of using it for steaming vegi's I use it as a false bottom for my brew kettle/mash tun. That way, when you're heating the water, the steamer separates the bag from the bottom of the kettle and keeps the bag from getting burned. Then you don't have to lift and stir every time you heat up your mash. It saves a lot of work.

If you already have a chest freezer, the temperature controller is a no-brainer. Just do it. The best thing I ever did for my beer was fermentation temperature control.

If it is a chest freezer, you'll have a hard time getting glass carboys or better bottles in and out of it without some sort of carrying device. I'd consider using the buckets with handles to make that part of it easier.
I have a steamer tray that should sit perfectly in the kettle I have been looking at! That should have been on my list of things! Thanks for the reminder! As my freezer is a standard free-standing freezer (aka: not a chest) the bottles or carboys should be no issue. I figure pull out the bottom shelf for the 6.5gal fermenter, and then use the second shelf for the 3gal fermenters.
Quote:
Originally Posted by acidrain
BIAB is a great way to go, especially if you're short on space.
If you're OK with 2.5 or 3 gallon batches, your kettle size is fine, but if you are thinking about going bigger, get the bigger pot now. A keggle is a great alternative.
Like Uziyahu said, a steamer basket/kettle combination is ideal for BIAB.
I'm not sure what you meant by immersion chiller pre-chiller. And you listed it with the MLT supplies. To be clear, you use the immersion chiller after the boil only.
I like the S shaped air locks... they won't suck sanitizer back into the carboy.
Other than that, you look like you have it under control.
The pre chiller is just another immersion chiller that is going to go into a bucket of ice and feed into my wort chiller. I figure I'll use straight from the faucet to chill my wort to the tap water temp then drop the pre chiller in the ice bath to drop my wort even further. From what I have been reading here and else where this is a hit or miss method. Many Online Brew stores suggest a plate chiller (somewhat natural so you end up purchasing more), and don't use a pre-chiller. Some online also advocate that the plate chiller is the best way to go. Others online mention that the pre-chiller is in-fact an excellent way to get similar results to a counter-flow chiller, but you can never reach the efficiency of a plate chiller. Having used CFCs before I am tempted to go that route but only in the future as I don't have the money for building or purchasing a CFC.

Kettle Sizing: I have been doing some math (with the help of some calculators mind you) and for a five gal batch of BIAB, the 10.5gal kettle should work well so long as my grain bill isn't too huge. It seems like I should be able to do about an 18lb grain bill in a 10.5gal batch using BIAB. Is my math correct or am I wrong somewhere in my calculations?

Thanks for all the help and info to help me make my decisions wisely!
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:57 AM   #9
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I have a 10.5 gallon kettle and used 20# in a grain bill recently. Very little space left and I did sparge 2 gallons through the grains once i pulled it. So yes it can be done but may be tricky.
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Old 03-18-2013, 03:02 AM   #10
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Bottling bucket - I did not see one on there. IMO it is easier than a cane. About $15.
Bottling wand - inexpensive and makes bottling MUCH easier, even if you do not use a bottling bucket. (oh. never mind.)

I use 3/8" ID tubing. I wish I had all 1/2" ID tubing, canes, and wands. It has twice the flow area and makes for much faster transfer and bottle filling.

For the future, a valve on the kettle is a welcome addition. Might not matter with 3 gallon batches.

Sometimes you can get a bench capper on eBay for $30 or so. Wing cappers are OK. I went with the bench 'cuz I never, ever want to break a bottle and run my hand down onto the glass. I'm a weenie about that stuff. Either is good.

I use an 8 gallon pot for BIAB 5 gallon batches which is sometimes *interesting*, but it is possible so IMO a 42 qt pot is fine for 3 gal batches. Doing big beers with 20# grain bill, then yeah, 10 gal might be edgy. I do 11-13# of grain for 1.040-1.060 beers. And I don't start with the full amount of water - dunk sparge and makeup. Bigger is better, as long as it fits your space, heating capacity, and budget.

Get what you can. Brew what you can. Enjoy!


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Reason: added comment about grain bills
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